Novartis has announced plans to divide its pharmaceuticals division into two business units, in a restructure that also sees the departure of current division head and chief executive David Epstein.
Under the new structure, Novartis Pharmaceuticals and Novartis Oncology will form the Innovative Medicines Division at the Swiss drugmaker, joining the firm's generics/biosimilars unit Sandoz and eye unit Alcon.
The move brings some key changes at the top: Epstein has decided to leave Novartis "and explore new challenges from the US"; Paul Hudson, currently executive vice president, North America, at AstraZeneca, will lead Novartis Pharmaceuticals; and Bruno Strigini, currently head of Novartis' oncology segment, will also lead the Novartis Oncology business unit.
The firm said it expects that the changes, which ride on the back of the successful integration of the oncology assets from GlaxoSmithkline, will help drive its growth and innovation strategy, "with an increased focus and improved execution" for both business units.
Last year the group sold off its animal health division to Eli Lilly and vaccines unit to GSK, while bringing on board GSK's oncology assets, under a drive to streamline focus and operations.
"A split makes sense because oncology now has critical mass, following the GSK deal, and oncology is in many ways becoming a differentiated business from the rest of pharmaceuticals," said Mick Cooper, an analyst at equity research firm Trinity Delta, reports Reuters.